GAUGE, or Gage (Med. Lat. gauja, jaugia, Fr. jauge, perhaps connected with Fr. jale, a bowl, galon, gallon), a standard of measurement, and also the name given to various instruments and appliances by which measurement is effected. The word seems to have been primarily used in connexion with the process of ascertaining the contents of wine casks; the name gauger is still applied to certain custom-house officials in the United States, and in Scotland it means an exciseman. Thence it was extended to other measurements, and used of the instruments used in making them or of the standards to which they were referred. In the mechanical arts gauges are employed in great variety to enable the workmen to ascertain whether the object he is making is of the proper dimensions (see Tool), and similar gauges of various forms are employed to ascertain and to specify the sizes of manufactured articles such as wire and screws. A rain gauge is an apparatus for measuring the amount of the rainfall at any locality, and a wind gauge indicates the pressure and force of the wind. The boilers of steam engines are provided with a water gauge and a steam or pressure gauge. The purpose of the former is to enable the attendant to see whether or not there is a sufficient quantity of water in the boiler. It consists of two cocks or taps communicating with the interior, one being placed at the lowest point to which it is permissible for the water to fall, and the other at the point above which it should not rise; a glass tube connects the two cocks, and when they are both open the water in this stands at the same level as in the boiler. The steam gauge shows the pressure of the steam in the boiler. One of the commonest forms, known as the Bourdon gauge, depends on the fact that a curved tube tends to straighten itself if the pressure within it is greater than that outside it. This gauge therefore consists of a curved or coiled tube of elastic material, and preferably of elliptic section, connected with the boiler and arranged with a multiplying gear so that its bending or unbending actuates a pointer moving over a graduated scale. If the pressure within the tube is less than that outside it, the tube tends to bend or coil itself up further; with a pointer arranged as before, the gauge then becomes a vacuum gauge, indicating how far the pressure in the vessel to which it is attached is below that of the atmosphere. In railway engineering the gauge of a line is the distance between the two rails (see Railway). In nautical language, a ship is said to have the weather gage when she is to windward of another, and similarly the lee gage when to leeward of another; in this sense the word is usually spelt "gage," a spelling which prevails in America for all senses.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)